Southern Conference football returns to Seibert Stadium as the Samford Bulldogs are set to face the ETSU Owls on Saturday.
This will be the second week of SoCon play for these two conference title contenders. Both teams have started the season red hot, and this game has the potential to be an all-time classic in Seibert Stadium.
The Samford Bulldogs are led by quarterback Liam Welch. The 2020 season finally solidified the starting position for Welch after he sat behind Devlin Hodges and Chris Oladokun. Now, Welch is one of the SoCon’s top talents and is competing for a Walter Peyton Award. Prior to last weekend’s game, Welch was leading the conference in passing yards (587) and touchdowns (5). Look for Welch to lead the Bulldogs in the fight for their biggest win yet.
Samford’s defense saw significant improvement last season under new defensive coordinator Nick Benedetto. His 2021 unit, which is ranked fifth in the conference for yards allowed per game, is highlighted by ball-hawking defensive backs that recorded four interceptions in the first two games. This experienced DB squad will have to be the difference makers against a very talented ETSU offense that has the ability to strike through the air at will.
ETSU, led by head coach Randy Sanders, pulled off a massive upset in week one against Vanderbilt. Not only did the Owls win, they also dominated 23-3. Though Vanderbilt might not be the best in the SEC, the game’s outcome was shocking and put the team in serious consideration for a SoCon title.
Last season, the Owls defeated the Bulldogs in a tight 24-17 road loss. Samford’s 17 points were the fewest points scored all season. However, the Bulldogs were led by Chris Oladokun rather than Liam Welch at quarterback. The pressure will be on Welch to continue Samford’s dynamic passing attack against a very talented defense.
Given the battle-tested defensive and uber-talented offensive units of ETSU, it is safe to say that this could be Samford’s toughest SoCon opponent this year. Regardless of the Owl’s pedigree, it will be a great test of the Bulldogs’ hope for a SoCon title.
The Samford vs. ETSU game will be played this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Birmingham and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
NOTE: This article was written prior to the Samford vs WCU game on Sept. 16. A full recap of that game can be found on the Samford Crimson website, along with more information on Samford Athletics.